NEW YORK – Monday evening was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gala. The theme this year has been met with everything from scandal and outrage to admiration. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been taken aback. Many of us are not sure what to think about the creative outlets that had been taken.
The outraged primarily centers on celebrities in attendance who, instead of being creative and reverent with a faith that is not their own, decided instead to strive for shock value. Plenty of those who attended did not fit the criteria of covered shoulders and knees that is required to enter holy sites throughout Vatican City. There were also those appalled that celebrities who publicly mock the faith would be associated with any of our beloved saints- especially in an unsavory manner.
The Vatican gave permission for this year’s theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. There was a generous display of genuine Catholic articles from vestments and tiaras to admire and draw inspiration. Cardinal Dolan was not only present, but opened the exhibit. The Sistine Chapel Choir preformed adding a note of reality and true beauty to those who could appreciate the theme and grand displays.
While it is to be expected that there would be irreverence from those who mock the Catholic Faith openly, and some of the outfits are outrageous and cringe worthy, even these did exactly what the theme prompted. Imagination, the Catholic Faith and Fashion cannot always be combined and please the masses, especially when placed in the hands of secular designers and celebrities. Even so, it would be hard to deny that many were reverent and beautiful in their portrayals, prompting Catholic’s to look at how they can better “wear their faith on their sleeves” as many of the celebrities literally did with their designs.
Many faithful Catholics, while in no way saying they could appreciate Rihanna’s “sexy pope” statement piece, still find themselves defending the outreach the Church has had through the event. Seeds have been planted and you can see that in the beauty and thought that went into many of these fashionista’s choices. The public has seen saints in the gowns, and even adorned in the form of hats, that they may never have looked into otherwise.
Beauty often catches our eye and causes something in our souls to reach out toward God even if just spurred by curiosity. Let us together hope that the good which comes from any exposure to the Faith, God, and saints, (in the form of shock value as well as the simple to ornate), brings forth good fruit. Let us all be challenged to grow in our own reverence, humility, and how well we wear our faith daily.